Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Feb. 21, 1862

Feb. 21, 1862: THE BATTLE OF VALVERDE, New Mexico - Col. Green, assuming active field command of the Rebel Army of New Mexico, pushes an advance detachment of his 5th Texas Cavalry forward to Valverde Ford on the Rio Grande, thus threatening the supply line to Col. Canby and his brigade of Federals in Ft. Craig. Green takes up a position at the ford with 180 of his troopers and sends back word for reinforcement. Meanwhile, Canby sends Col. Roberts with one regiment to the ford. Roberts sends his men charging across the ford at Green’s Texans; although the Yankees take losses, they drive Green’s troopers back. Roberts then brings up Capt. McRae’s battery of artillery and sets up a line there on the east bank of the river. Col. Scurry’s 4th Texas Cavalry, about 500 men, arrive, along with some cannon of their own. The Union artillery, under Capt. McRae, duels with the Rebel guns. Just as the Federals are moving across the river to threaten the Confederate right flank, another battalion of the 5th Texas arrives, and they stop the Federal assault. Capt. Lang of the 5th Texas, charges with his troop, who are equipped with lances, and they are driven back with heavy losses. Federal commander Col. Canby arrives at the battlefield with the rest of his command; Carson’s regiment returns from its futile mission, and Canby begins organizing an assault on the Rebel line. However, Green has re-formed his troops, and leads a charge with over 1,000 Texans towards the Union line. The Federals repulse the Rebels on the Federal right, but on their left, Samuel "Nicaragua" Lockridge, with several companies of the 5th Texas, advancing skirmish-style, pour a heavy fire into McRae’s battery, whose guns fall silent. McRae is killed, as is his antagonist Lockridge, and the Rebel attack falters. The hand-to-hand fighting continues, though, and the Federals begin to take heavy losses. Canby orders a retreat to Ft. Craig, although he leaves behind his wounded and all of McRae’s cannon. The Confederates now control the ford. Confederate Victory.

Losses: Killed Wounded Missing

U.S. 68 139 65

C.S. 36 150 1

—Acting Master Henry L. Sturges, of the U.S. Navy, is aboard the USS Mount Vernon on blockade duty off Wilmington, North Carolina. He writes to a friend back home and reveals an interesting passionate religious faith that is expressed very frankly:

Your kind regards of 23rd ult. came to hand Jnry 13th it affords me much pleasure to hear from you but it makes my heart sad to hear of the death of your child I can deeply sympathize with you by haveing had to pass through those trying moments myself. But its the Lord that giveth and taketh and all we can say is his Holy will be done. We can always feel happy to know that they are with Jesus, and are awaiting to welcome us home to that happy happy shore where trials and troubles are o[v]er. Oh what great inducements are held out to us to reach that Heavenly home, Christ is there. dear friends are there. Blessings are there. and I trust that we will be there, I pray that Jesus will not forsake us but will give us the full assurance that we are accepted of him. I can but say precious Jesus thou art mine, its hard work for me to write my feelings, if I was only with you in person I could then unfold the love to my dear dear Jesus from a sailors heart. pray for me dear Brother and Christ will reward you openly.

—Charles Francis Adams, the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James (Great Britain), writes to his son Charles, Jr., who is an officer in the cavalry, stationed near Port Royal in South Carolina. Among other things, he refers to his efforts to curtail British sale of the materials of war to the South:
All that I have ever sought for has been the opportunity of developing our policy of repression. At first I confess I had little confidence in its success. But of late I have been thinking better and better of it. And it seems to me that the same impression is growing all around me. . . . The struggle is a tremendous one, and must not be measured hastily. I pity the people of the southern states, but I have no mercy for their profligate leaders, who have wantonly brought them to such a catastrophe.

—Oliver Willcox Norton of the Union Army, writes home to his sister, enthused about the news of the victories at Roanoke Island and Ft. Donelson. Norton gives an apt example of the excesses and fantasies of the soldiers’ rumor mill:
The rebels are beginning to feel heartily sick of their madness, if we may judge by their acts. We hear that Vice President Stephens has resigned and advised the rebels to lay down their arms and surrender. Governor Letcher has done the same. The rebels are evacuating Columbus to escape the fate of their friends in Fort Donelson, and to-day’s Press says that they are leaving Centreville and Manassas to protect Richmond. If this is true we may be following them up in a very short time and completely whip them by the middle of March. Things certainly look brighter every day. The boys are already talking of what they’ll er every day. The boys are already talking of what they’ll do when they get home. I think I shall go home by way of New York and stop there for a short visit. . . .

—Surgeon Alfred L. Castleman of the Union Army notes in his journal certain paradoxes in the management of the Army of the Potomac:

21st.—No grounds yet on which to base an opinion as to when or where we shall go. One day brings us assurances that our Division will in a few days go to Annapolis to join the mortar fleet bound South. The next we hear that we are to advance and take Manassas. To-day we hear that we are shortly to go to Kentucky, and join the fighting army under Buell. There is also a rumor here that the rebels are leaving Manassas in great numbers. If that be true (the President and Gen. McClellan both believe it), we shall probably advance on that stronghold and occupy it ourselves until we are ready for the "on to Richmond " move. But why, if we have been staying here all winter to "bag the enemy" at Manassas, do we now lie still and permit them to leave? This "gives me pause" in my opinions. I do not like such doings, nor can I quite comprehend such Generalship. But it is not for me to criticise the plans of educated military leaders.

Feb. 22, 1862:

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